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Balmoral In Stormy Seas


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FOCLs Balmoral has arrived back to Dover late on the 18th of November after having sustained damage by significant waves yesterday on the journey back from Norway at the end of a 14-night cruise, "Round-trip In Search of the Northern Lights." The ship seems to have experienced a prolonged period of very high winds for up to a day and a half and some exceptional waves.

 

We've seen one unverified report of a "porthole" on the main being blow in/out yesterday evening and mention of a  Hele-vac from the same source. We've also seen another report praising the professionalism of the Captain and the crew. 

 

The company has reported that a small number of cabins have been damaged. The ship arrived at Dover this afternoon... much later than planned. 

 

The Balmoral will no longer sail onto Southampton to pick up the next set of cruise passengers who were due to sail on a 14-day cruise to Morocco and Southern Spain this evening It looks as if these passengers will now be transferred to Dover by coach. and that the cruise will leave from there.

 

We've twice experienced Force 10 gales on the Balmoral and can certainly say that she handled well and we felt very safe with the Captain and that the ship came through unscathed.

 

 It's times like these that everyone's hearts goes out the passengers and crew. 

 

 

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The ship seems to have been caught in a force 10/11 gale and sea-state 8... (towering waves of between 30 and 46 feet crashing onto the windows).

 

We've also heard that videos show the ship pitching and rolling significantly in the high sea. 

We've seen one report that passengers' injuries ranged from sprains to broken bones. One guest, who sustained significant injuries... reportedly transported to the hospital upon arrival in Dover. 

 

Some cruisers who were onboard seem to have questioned why the ship sailed right into a severe storm which was forecast which was before the ship left the last port of call. Others have praised how well the Captain and crew handled the Balmoral in such a challenging situation. 

 

Very sadly, it all seems a bit reminiscent of the Valentine's Day storm in 2014 when a window in the dining room of the Marco Polo was smashed in by a wave in the English Channel during dinner service. There was considerable damage, public areas were flooded, people were unable to move around the ship. Almost twenty people were injured, one seriously and, heartbreakingly, one fatality.

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Perhaps I’m being naive, but I cannot understand why the Captain sailed into a storm which was forecast, when the safest option would have been to remain at the previous port until the storm blew over.  Of course that would have meant disrupting the following cruise, but surely the safety of the passengers and crew is more important? 
 

 


 

 

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Although rough sea was forecast, all available sources did not forecast a storm of the severity that we encountered. Unfortunately there were some injuries but the Captain and crew did an amazing job in keeping everyone as safe as possible.

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The Windfinder site was forecasting intense Winds of about 50 Knots in the Southern North Sea for a week before the event. It would be very surprising if the far more sophisticated forecasts available to the marine community weren't also indicating a similar situation.

 

Earlier on this year a FOCLs ship chose to stay in a Norwegian port and abandon their northward itinerary in lesser winds. Once the conditions eased, it was eventually able to return to the UK in time to undertake the next cruise.

 

We've always found the  professionalism of the Captains and crews to be outstanding... especially in difficult and challenging sea conditions.

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Nowadays, with cruise ships being turned round in less than a day following the end of one cruise and the beginning of the next, cruise lines will do whatever they can to stick to the schedule, otherwise they will have to compensate.

 

One Fred cruise I did was terminated early due to norovirus and we arrived back in Southampton a day early.  We got a refund for some pro-rata amount they calculated for the day missed, but it was poor consolation to a terrible cruise.  But they did that so the next cruise would leave on time.

 

They'll do whatever they can to meet the next sailing, but it looks like it this case they made a bad choice.

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5 hours ago, richard_london said:

Nowadays, with cruise ships being turned round in less than a day following the end of one cruise and the beginning of the next, cruise lines will do whatever they can to stick to the schedule, otherwise they will have to compensate.

 

One Fred cruise I did was terminated early due to norovirus and we arrived back in Southampton a day early.  We got a refund for some pro-rata amount they calculated for the day missed, but it was poor consolation to a terrible cruise.  But they did that so the next cruise would leave on time.

 

They'll do whatever they can to meet the next sailing, but it looks like it this case they made a bad choice.

 

 

The idea that "worse things happen at sea" is a truism and we rely on cruse lines to look after our health and safety when we're on board. FOCLs' demographic as a whole tend to be less agile and less able to cope in physically challenging situations. 

 

The undisputed fact is that the Balmoral sailed into a severe gale and sea state 8, although there is a question of whether or not weather of that severity had been forecast. Comments from one or two people who claim to have been on board have praised the Captain and crew but without giving much detail of the conditions, the event, the state of the ship or why they believe things were handled well.

 

However, the facts are that less than seven month ago the Maritime and Coastguard Agency detained the Balmoral at North Shields after the ship failed a Port State Control (PSC) inspection.

 

On the 28th of April 2022 Maritime and Coastguard Agency surveyors found that there were eight deficiencies and four grounds for detention; the Balmoral's muster list was incomplete and the crew lacked familiarity with fire drills. The Agency also concluded that, on two counts, the crew's familiarisation with emergency systems was not as required. These deficiencies were so serious that the Balmoral was detained and the deficiencies had to be rectified before departure. The Balmoral was released the next day.

 

But that wasn't the first time that the Balmoral was detained. In September 2011 it was held in Southampton for 2 days. Maritime and Coastguard Agency surveyors found that lifeboat davits were seized, fire doors were not closing and the crew showed a lack of knowledge and training in respect of the abandon ship drill. Perhaps even worse, the surveyors also found that hours of rest records for the master, chief officer, chief engineer and senior first engineer were false for several days and... there was a serious failure or lack of effectiveness of the implementation of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code which provides an international standard for the safe management and operation of ships and for pollution prevention.

 

Certainly these detentions were ten years apart. On both occasions the Balmoral was released and there is no suggestion that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency would allow any ship to sail if there was evidence that it didn't meet the regulations.

 

The "news" of the incident is "out there" on various sites, blogs and even in the Portuguese press. One USA based blogger's site has had 50k views of this story in just the last day. Perhaps now's the opportunity for FOCLs to deal with what could become a similar "tale noir" to that of the Braemar in 2020. FOCLs could replace speculation with the detailed facts and reports of exactly what happened and a "good news" story of how the Captain and the crew delt with an exceptionally challenging situation.

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On 11/18/2022 at 10:54 PM, richard_london said:

She isn't having much luck in 2022.  The propeller issue and now this.

 

Just adds to Fred.'s woes, another disrupted cruise, more compensation (I guess for passengers disrupted) and more costs (repairs).

They didn’t pay any “compensation” as such for the propeller issue.
 

They offered a % discount on cruises 1000 miles round trip away from the original departure port that they couldn’t sell anyway (and later cancelled or reduced the prices on some of the cruises offered so the discount was pretty much meaningless).
 

Since that cancellation 4 days before the cruise they have been offering much deeper discounts, free drinks etc etc now on the cruises which were offered with just a 20% discount, after all the inconvenience they caused. Someone booking today would get a much better price and package than a passenger who lost their cruise at the very last minute.

 

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9 hours ago, Eglesbrech said:

They didn’t pay any “compensation” as such for the propeller issue

I am sorry to hear that. Sounds like poor customer relations.  Sadly another example of the brand failing it's loyal passengers and not living up to the family company image they are so keen to project.

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  • 1 month later...
On 11/18/2022 at 10:54 PM, richard_london said:

Just adds to Fred.'s woes

 

FOCLs' woes seem to be coming home to roost.

 

Nobody can reasonably accuse FOCLs of not trying in our opinion. At 10.06 today, 4 January 2023, we had an email inviting us to consider the 78-night South America and the Antarctica cruise on the Balmoral... leaving tomorrow afternoon!

 

Quite astonishing considering that we were being offered this cruise months ago on the basis that we could have "one of the last few cabins available!"

 

Just checked the website and lots and lots of cabins are still available!

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  • 9 months later...

 

 

Now... Less than a year later...

 

There are unconfirmed reports that About 8 .00 pm last night (1 November. 2023) while the Balmoral was doing about 6 knots against a 46 knot headwind in pretty high seas just of the North-Western coast of Spain, that either porthole(s) or windows(s), possibly on deck four, were blown in by the wind/mountainous seas.

 

Either before or after this incident, at about 8.30 pm last night, it looks like FOCLs abandoned all attempts for the Balmoral to sail south late last night and after an hour or two of deliberation set a course for Porto Lexioes, on the Portuguese Coast, where it's was expected to arrive about 2.00 pm this afternoon. 

 

However there seems to have been a change of mind about 9.00 pm on the 1 November the Balmoral turned eastwards in parallel to the northern Spanish coast.. The Balmoral is currently doing about 12 knots but is being pushed along through mountainous 9m high seas by a 18.2 m/s gale. 

 

About 10.30 this morning, the Balmoral published a course for Bilbao... about 300 nm off the original course. It seems a very long way to avoid a storm and so it may be that the Balmoral is hoping for some assistance from a ship repair yard or considering the option of flights to... ? 

 

One thing that's probably guaranteed is that the Balmoral will not be in Cadiz on 3 November.

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5 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

 

Now... Less than a year later...

 

There are unconfirmed reports that About 8 .00 pm last night (1 November. 2023) while the Balmoral was doing about 6 knots against a 46 knot headwind in pretty high seas just of the North-Western coast of Spain, that either porthole(s) or windows(s), possibly on deck four, were blown in by the wind/mountainous seas.

 

Either before or after this incident, at about 8.30 pm last night, it looks like FOCLs abandoned all attempts for the Balmoral to sail south late last night and after an hour or two of deliberation set a course for Porto Lexioes, on the Portuguese Coast, where it's was expected to arrive about 2.00 pm this afternoon. 

 

However there seems to have been a change of mind about 9.00 pm on the 1 November the Balmoral turned eastwards in parallel to the northern Spanish coast.. The Balmoral is currently doing about 12 knots but is being pushed along through mountainous 9m high seas by a 18.2 m/s gale. 

 

About 10.30 this morning, the Balmoral published a course for Bilbao... about 300 nm off the original course. It seems a very long way to avoid a storm and so it may be that the Balmoral is hoping for some assistance from a ship repair yard or considering the option of flights to... ? 

 

One thing that's probably guaranteed is that the Balmoral will not be in Cadiz on 3 November.

 

This thread is from late last year.  

 

Regards this one recent posting, I can correct some points.  Balmoral left Southampton on Monday and a minor engine issue arose during her journey, which means an engineer is to be despatched to the ship at a port which can be arranged.  The original plan was to head for Lorient yesterday, but that plan was changed to Leixoes as they would have then been stuck in port in Lorient.  Today the weather has been particularly bad in Lorient, so on reflection, I am thinking it now appears obvious why that plan was scuppered.  Midday yesterday the Captain announced that Leixoes was no longer possible because of the weather, so they were heading towards Gran Canaria, though with some uncertainty as the weather was due to worsen.

 

Soon after 8pm last night it was announced the ship could not continue, so they were to turn and seek shelter along the Spanish coast.  His gave strict instructions that everyone should be seated as the ship turned and certainly that seems to have been sound advice.  Soon after 8.30pm the Captain apparently announced that windows had been smashed, (they were not portholes), though he did not mention where. He did say not to worry about that though, as the crew were dealing with it.  Subsequent postings seem to have determined that they were in cabins on deck four, starboard, somewhere between the mid and rear lifts, though it is not known if it is just two cabins, or possibly more.  There had also been a couple of code alpha’s, after the Captain had mentioned the broken windows, though someone did say this morning that as far as they know, there were no serious injuries last night, hopefully that is the case.

 

The seas certainly had been rough before Balmoral turned with the odd bangs and clangs as well, but whilst still in stormy waters, it was reported it was far better onboard after they had turned.  The speed was restricted to 5 knots last night, but that has got quicker now.  The Captain announced this morning that they were heading to Bilbao, to arrive tonight.  Seems most people are keeping cheerful and making the most of what they can.  I am thinking though that some will be holing up in their cabins, which is where I may well have been!

 

I have had appointments, (including a hospital one), yesterday and have been to a social event this morning/lunchtime, so have not been into the net much over the last few days, but I was able to follow these main details via social media (from posts by people on the ship), which includes seeing a couple of letters which were sent to cabins onboard.

 

Borealis was to have headed to the Azores from Liverpool yesterday, prior to heading on to Madeira, but has had to abandon that plan.  She is now in Belfast today and (I think tomorrow), before heading on to Cobh, Vigo and Madeira.

 

I have not looked at forecasts, but from what has been mentioned there is another storm is on the way to western France and sounds like the whole ocean is going to be somewhat rough for a while to come.  Mein Schiff 3 was just ahead of Balmoral (when she turned last night) and continued in the same direction, now off the Portuguese cost, just north of Lisbon.  Bollette was there on (I think Monday), so missed the worst, though seas were rough in the bay then.  A number of ships seem to have hit heavy weather returning to the UK late last week and seems ports are currently being skipped/changed in the Med as well.  I have heard the planes from Jersey airport are currently parked up in Liverpool Airport.  Whilst the tips of some tree branches (not all) are waving around gently, it is pretty calm up here.

 

Hope this update is useful, Hopefully we will hear more from people onboard when the ship returns, but meanwhile I hope all goes much better from now on for them.

 

Edited by tring
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1 hour ago, tring said:

 

This thread is from late last year.  

 

Regards this one recent posting, I can correct some points.  Balmoral left Southampton on Monday and a minor engine issue arose during her journey, which means an engineer is to be despatched to the ship at a port which can be arranged.  The original plan was to head for Lorient yesterday, but that plan was changed to Leixoes as they would have then been stuck in port in Lorient.  Today the weather has been particularly bad in Lorient, so on reflection, I am thinking it now appears obvious why that plan was scuppered.  Midday yesterday the Captain announced that Leixoes was no longer possible because of the weather, so they were heading towards Gran Canaria, though with some uncertainty as the weather was due to worsen.

 

Soon after 8pm last night it was announced the ship could not continue, so they were to turn and seek shelter along the Spanish coast.  His gave strict instructions that everyone should be seated as the ship turned and certainly that seems to have been sound advice.  Soon after 8.30pm the Captain apparently announced that windows had been smashed, (they were not portholes), though he did not mention where. He did say not to worry about that though, as the crew were dealing with it.  Subsequent postings seem to have determined that they were in cabins on deck four, starboard, somewhere between the mid and rear lifts, though it is not known if it is just two cabins, or possibly more.  There had also been a couple of code alpha’s, after the Captain had mentioned the broken windows, though someone did say this morning that as far as they know, there were no serious injuries last night, hopefully that is the case.

 

The seas certainly had been rough before Balmoral turned with the odd bangs and clangs as well, but whilst still in stormy waters, it was reported it was far better onboard after they had turned.  The speed was restricted to 5 knots last night, but that has got quicker now.  The Captain announced this morning that they were heading to Bilbao, to arrive tonight.  Seems most people are keeping cheerful and making the most of what they can.  I am thinking though that some will be holing up in their cabins, which is where I may well have been!

 

I have had appointments, (including a hospital one), yesterday and have been to a social event this morning/lunchtime, so have not been into the net much over the last few days, but I was able to follow these main details via social media (from posts by people on the ship), which includes seeing a couple of letters which were sent to cabins onboard.

 

Borealis was to have headed to the Azores from Liverpool yesterday, prior to heading on to Madeira, but has had to abandon that plan.  She is now in Belfast today and (I think tomorrow), before heading on to Cobh, Vigo and Madeira.

 

I have not looked at forecasts, but from what has been mentioned there is another storm is on the way to western France and sounds like the whole ocean is going to be somewhat rough for a while to come.  Mein Schiff 3 was just ahead of Balmoral (when she turned last night) and continued in the same direction, now off the Portuguese cost, just north of Lisbon.  Bollette was there on (I think Monday), so missed the worst, though seas were rough in the bay then.  A number of ships seem to have hit heavy weather returning to the UK late last week and seems ports are currently being skipped/changed in the Med as well.  I have heard the planes from Jersey airport are currently parked up in Liverpool Airport.  Whilst the tips of some tree branches (not all) are waving around gently, it is pretty calm up here.

 

Hope this update is useful, Hopefully we will hear more from people onboard when the ship returns, but meanwhile I hope all goes much better from now on for them.

 

 

(If this seems to be a duplication ... please ignore #14 ... it escaped by accident... maybe the wind took it!)

 

 

The Balmoral had windows/porthole(s) blown in late last year.That's now been repeated within the last day.. That's two instances of Balmoral windows/portholes being blow--in within a year.

 

In these circumstances... there are so many "stories." We joined the Balmoral a little time ago after it came back from a very rough crossing of the Bay of Biscay. We'd heard that the glass of the Lido Bar had been blown out. The reality once we were on board was that high winds has allow drips of water through the seals in places. We spoke to a member of the deck crew, who was armed with a mastic gun to resolve the situation!

 

There is no verified confirmation from FOCLs of the details of the incident but there is some unconfirmed stuff on a popular online gossip site and so it's very appropriate to repeat any comments gleaned with the cautionary "apparently." Apart from anything else the suggestions online from some sites are often so contradictory.

 

For instance... details reported by the ship show that while the speed was reduced to 4.1 knots at 17.01 yesterday evening, an hour or so later the Balmoral was doing 7.1 knots. By 21.34 yesterday evening reports from the the ship show that the Balmoral was travelling at 12.4 knots. Although there is a claim on one unmentionable site that the Balmoral's speed was restricted to "5 knots last night" the facts reported by the ship is that throughout last night and today the Balmoral has maintained a speed speed of at least 11 - 12+ knots.

 

In fact, the ship is currently approaching Bilbao at 15 - 16+ knots.

 

That seems to us to be a pretty fair speed for one of the Grand Old Ladies of the Sea. So things may not be as bad as some on other less cautionary online sites would have them seem.

 

We wish all on board well and we will wait and see what the reality of the situation really is.

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8 minutes ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

 

Two instances of Balmoral windows/portholes being blow--in within a year.

 

There no verifieded confirmation from FOCLs of the details of the incident but there is some unconfirmed stuff on a popular gossip site and so it's very appropriate to repeat these comments with the cautionary "apparently." Apart from anything else the suggestion on line on some sites are often so contradictory.

 

For instance... details reported by the ship show that while the speed was reduced to 4.1 knots at 17.01 yesterday evening, an hour or so. The facts reported from the ship are that later the Balmoral was doing 7.1 knots and by 21.34 the ship was travelling at 12.4 knots. Although there is a claim on one unmentionable site that the Balmoral's speed was restricted to "5 knots last night" the facts reported by the ship is that throughout last night and today the Balmoral has maintained a speed speed of at least 11 - 12+ knots. In fact, the ship is currently approach Bilbao at 15 - 16+ knots.

 

That seems to us to be a pretty fair speed for one of the Grand old Ladies of the sea these days. So things may not be as bad as some on other places would have them seem.

 

We wait and see.

 

 

Yes of course, though I did use the word "apparently" and "it was reported" at some stage(s) and also mentioned afterwards where I had got the information.  I did mention the sequence of where they were heading towards and why from posts made after each captains announcement.  This is a bit different to what you had been able to pick up.  The mention of restricted to 5 knots was made soon after the windows had been smashed, which sounds pretty likely - until they had been able to inspect, and hopefully repair the "holes on the hull" which would have been left.  I had not envisaged that being the case all night and the average speed may well have remained higher. 

 

I think passengers must have slept better last night as things did reportedly calm somewhat and also I am sure they must have felt more rested knowing that the ship was hopefully heading for quieter waters.  Sounds like as well as the cabins with broken windows, that there is damage elsewhere, which is perhaps to be expected.  Someone said their cabin had lost power and water at one stage, but it was restored, though she was given a card to use another cabin if she wished.  It seems some people did move cabin, so lucky there were some spare ones.  On our September Aurora cruise we had spoken to people on deck 11 who had big cabin problems, including being flooded on a few occasions (not sure how bad), but P&O just said they had to stay where they were as there was no alternative! 

 

I was feeling that Fred had done the wrong thing to have passed Lorient, or not even have considered returning to Southampton, but the subsequent events seems to have perhaps disproved my thoughts being the best options, and I do not know how safe the docking location would have been in Lorient.  I have not seen any reports of people feeling bad towards Fred's head office or the ship's crew at present, but as you say, this is another thing which will likely get a lot more views aired in time.  Possibly with out the engine fault (which was reported to be minor), they would have cleared the bad area before the seas got really bad.

 

I must do dinner now.  I have had a busy few days and my concerns about Balmoral had kept me having a look at what I could glean about the situation as well as the weather everywhere, but I can leave it all now knowing she is heading to port.

 

 

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Delighted to report that the Balmoral safely moored at 19.15 on the quay in Getxo with the assistance of a couple of tugs. It's 10˚C, there is a light breeze and the harbour is reasonably calm. So dinner at a steady table, it's safe for second sitting to order the soup and if one is a little unsteady while returning to the cabin after the evening show... it's the cocktails rather than the sea.

 

Best wishes to the hundreds on board. 😀

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Seems they have now been told they will be in Bilbao (or the port for Bilbao which is indeed Gexto), until at least Saturday.  So  they will miss the rest of the cruise, including the meet up in Funchal, sadly.  Someone who lives near La Rochelle had said yesterday that another storm is following on and someone (Jean) posted a link to a "wind monitoring site" on the P&O forums earlier and looks like The Atlantic is going to be pretty stormy for a while.

 

Both people on this ship as well as Borealis had said over the last day or so, that they MAY get to Funchal, but I did not mention that, as I was not sure if it was something they had been told, or if they were just thinking that themselves.  Now sounding like the arrival of both ships could possibly be in doubt now, though as Bolette has already made her journey south, hopefully she at least will get to the port.

 

Another case of "we will have to wait and see".

 

 

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Now seems like Funchal is more weather dependent, rather than having been cancelled outright, though looks like they will not be making the Canaries.  As I said, a wait and see situation.

 

The repair is still waiting to be assessed, so probably not the cause of current planned changes.

 

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7 hours ago, tring said:

Seems they have now been told they

 

6 hours ago, tring said:

Now seems like Funchal is more weather dependent

 

 

Many thanks for these gleanings. Sadly there is so must misinterpretation and contradictions on some unmentionable sites (a similar incident last year was a prime example) that it's best to wait and see.

 

The main thing is that the Balmoral, her passengers and crew and in a safe port. we're so glad that's the case, 

 

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We're very glad that passengers are now safe in Getxo.

 

About the incident... one media outlet of FOCLs parent company, Bonheur, (in a post in the early hours of 3 November) mentions "deck 4 partially flooded" but this based on a post from one passenger on-board...  FOCLs confirm that a small number of cabins on deck 4 and the Neptune Lounge sustained damage.

 

According to the Windfinder site... today is going to be a very windy day on the North coast of Spain... with wind speeds up to at least 50 knots at times and wave heights of up to about 12.5 m.  Winds are forecast from due West... so a headwind for any ship heading out from Getxo. 

 

IMG_2786.thumb.jpeg.13bf3f4067e3a86636a3a9878b8f7de1.jpeg

 

 

Today the Balmoral had planned to be in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria but currently the ship is still on the quay at Getxo and is reporting 6.5 m/s winds from the West and rough seas.

 

By contrast, Mein Schiff 3 that was very close to and on a parallel course with the Balmoral when the incident happened is currently within 10 miles of Santa Cruz de Tenerife... and passengers are experiencing temps of 22˚C and a gentle breeze.

 

The only other cruise ship on the Balmoral's original course in that area is the Spirit of Discovery which is just off La Coruna. The Discovery is reporting experiencing a gale with 19.5 m/s winds (about 38 knots)and high seas with 7.5 m waves.

 

We've actually sailed those seas in the Balmoral about 10 years ago in similar conditions of a Storm Force 10. The ship did move around quite a bit, a great many people chose to remain in their cabins and the dining room was poorly attended.

 

According to Windfinder, the winds on the North coast of Spain are forecast to significantly subdue in the early hours of Sunday. Offshore speeds of about 25 - 30 knots seem to be more likely by midday on Sunday... but still these winds will be from the West.

 

We hope that FOCLs are looking after the Balmoral passengers very well and that they're able to make the best of things.

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

We're very glad that passengers are now safe in Getxo.

 

About the incident... one media outlet of FOCLs parent company, Bonheur, (in a post in the early hours of 3 November) mentions "deck 4 partially flooded" but this based on a post from one passenger on-board...  FOCLs confirm that a small number of cabins on deck 4 and the Neptune Lounge sustained damage.

 

According to the Windfinder site... today is going to be a very windy day on the North coast of Spain... with wind speeds up to at least 50 knots at times and wave heights of up to about 12.5 m.  Winds are forecast from due West... so a headwind for any ship heading out from Getxo. 

 

IMG_2786.thumb.jpeg.13bf3f4067e3a86636a3a9878b8f7de1.jpeg

 

 

Today the Balmoral had planned to be in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria but currently the ship is still on the quay at Getxo and is reporting 6.5 m/s winds from the West and rough seas.

 

By contrast, Mein Schiff 3 that was very close to and on a parallel course with the Balmoral when the incident happened is currently within 10 miles of Santa Cruz de Tenerife... and passengers are experiencing temps of 22˚C and a gentle breeze.

 

The only other cruise ship on the Balmoral's original course in that area is the Spirit of Discovery which is just off La Coruna. The Discovery is reporting experiencing a gale with 19.5 m/s winds (about 38 knots)and high seas with 7.5 m waves.

 

We've actually sailed those seas in the Balmoral about 10 years ago in similar conditions of a Storm Force 10. The ship did move around quite a bit, a great many people chose to remain in their cabins and the dining room was poorly attended.

 

According to Windfinder, the winds on the North coast of Spain are forecast to significantly subdue in the early hours of Sunday. Offshore speeds of about 25 - 30 knots seem to be more likely by midday on Sunday... but still these winds will be from the West.

 

We hope that FOCLs are looking after the Balmoral passengers very well and that they're able to make the best of things.

 

 

 

 

 

I had put a link to the media article you have mentioned in your first paragraph a few hours ago here.  The official Fred statement that the media post mentioned, can be seen in the social media site run by FOCL's.  It confirms they were on a course for Gran Canaria at that time, not Leixoes as you had said, though as I had said previously, the passengers onboard had reported that when the Captain had told them the course was changed to their, it was uncertain as the conditions was due to worsen.  Mein Schiff was a bit ahead of Balmoral when she turned, but Balmoral did have minor engine problems, which has also now been confirmed by Fred. The sea/wind was behind Balmoral after she turned, which I would suspect, have increased her speed.  She had left Southampton on Monday, so had taken quite a while getting that far.

 

Fred has also confirmed, they are staying in Bilbao whilst weather is bad.  I would also hope the engineer, who was to join the ship at a port they could arrange, will soon be able to  assess the minor engine problem.  I am no longer following posts from the ship, but they were able to go out into a rainy Bilbao yesterday.  Some passengers had posted in the thread on the official Fred social media site, (on which Fred has posted his updates about Balmoral).

 

Will indeed be interesting to hear reports when they return.

 

I think he Saga ship was sheltering in Falmouth yesterday, but I do not know where she is home porting.

 

Edited by tring
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17 minutes ago, tring said:

It confirms they were on a course for Gran Canaria at that time, not Leixoes as you had said, though as I had said previously,

 

It was the ship's own AIS which for some hours gave Leixoes as a destination. Change of plan? Who's to know?

 

The main thing is that the ship, the passengers and the staff are safe... and for that we are grateful.

 

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2 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

It was the ship's own AIS which for some hours gave Leixoes as a destination. Change of plan? Who's to know?

 

The main thing is that the ship, the passengers and the staff are safe... and for that we are grateful.

 

 

Yes, I realised you were going with an on line system, which often does not change straight away.  From what people were told on the ship, it seems there have been a number of different plans, which had been informed to passengers, as I had mentioned.  The Captain certainly seems to be good at giving them information at least, it is always extremely annoying to be kept in the dark in rough seas.  

 

Had you looked for Fred's social media post with the updates on Balmoral?  That starts with the notification that they were heading to Lorient and then that there was a change to Leixoes because of worsening weather conditions.  I do not think that thread initially included the change to Gran Canaria, because Leixoes was not going to be possible, though when passengers were told about the change to Gran Canaria, they were apparently told it was uncertain as the weather was forecast to get worse, so no major surprise they did not get that far.  When they turned to the west, passengers reported they had been told it was to shelter along the Spanish coast and it was a while later (a couple of hours or so, I think), before they were told that Bilbao had accepted them - hence that destination would not have shown as soon as they turned.  Perhaps it was never updated to Gran Canara as it was somewhat uncertain.  I had seen a comment saying that Bilbao is a good sheltered port, if so would mean there should be less problems docking, but I have no seafaring knowledge myself.  Looks like the theatre show (a comedian) was cancelled that night, (unsurprisingly), a good job if damage was done.  I think the main problem was the sea state, rather than just the wind speed, but you may have picked the sea state as well.  The bridge team must have been incredibly tired through the rough seas, it will not have been easy for them to sleep when off duty either. 

 

As you had said some passengers will have been in cabins, I certainly hope no one was in any of the cabins that have broken windows.  Apart from the glass they must have flooded to a certain level.  As I had mentioned there were reports of two code alpha's soon after they turned, so they may well have been for injuries, but hopefully not serious ones.  There were reports of a lot of broken glassware etc. in the Spey, which brings back my memories of The Grampian on Braemar whilst sailing down to the Canaries one November - eventually they started using plastic pool "glasses" there.  We did not make Madeira that day - we were told the forecast was for massive swells inside Funchal harbour and shown a wind/sea state depiction of an area of sea out to the west of Madeira which we were told was no go as the ship would have turned over!!  Such is November in The Atlantic and stupid us are booked to head over to the Caribbean in just over a week!  That is why I took an interest in this, but need to leave it alone now.  Thanks for the weather update on your previous post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 11/4/2023 at 2:44 PM, tring said:

Had you looked for Fred's social media post with the updates on Balmoral?

 

On 11/4/2023 at 2:44 PM, tring said:

As you had said some passengers will have been in cabins

 

As you probably know, having recently commented on previous posts which have mentioned comments posted on FOCL's sites, we're fully aware of the "top fans", the gushing marketeering by "Shona" and even the "gent?" who made a warm hearted proposal to one lady and added a dozen red roses at the end... although that was a little spoilt by the same "gent" doing exactly the same to a whole number of other posters. 

 

Don't think that we mentioned anything about passengers in their cabins.

 

Problem for us is that posts on certain sites are often very contradictory and it's often immensely difficult to know if information is actual observed fact, accurately reported without spin, bias or elaboration of if it's simply a repetition tittle-tattle, gossip and rumour gleaned over the tinkling tea cups and afternoon tea. We live in a world where what would once have been called "Chinese Whispers" are now described as "viral posts"... viral is a very good name... not only because to the suggestion of a rapid spread but also because a virus mutates and can be a pretty nasty thing.

 

Over the years we've been assured that; a 10m high rock three miles away was a walrus that had just eaten a seal, a zodiac at the side of an expedition boat was a grey whale being tagged, a supposed polar bear five miles away was leaving tracks in the snow and  even that a gannet following a ship as it left Dover Harbour was an albatross. We've also been told a ship was just about to run out of fuel, and the biggest and... the most horrendous fib of all... a corpse had been carried through public areas as folk were making their way into dinner, Every one of these false rumour was passed on by a well-meaning passenger on board... and every single one was incorrect. We don't think that the majority of people intend to mislead... But some just pass on hearsay without engaging their critical faculties.

 

As far as this voyage is concerned... one passenger described the voyage as four out of five stars and commented that, "Captain Val was also very much in evidence reassuring passengers when we hit bad weather.

 

"We've seen another report from a passenger that this was "the voyage from hell" with "engine failure" "hurricane force winds" "10m waves" "4 windows cave in because of the force of water" "flooding" "loss of property" "cuts and bruises" "broken bones" passengers tossed onto the floor along with tables, chairs and glasses" and compensation for a "holiday that never happened" 50% off a future cruise if taken within 12 months."

 

One other comment was, "There have been no reports of any injuries to passengers or crew."

 

So which version should one believe or should they all be cobbled together into some sort of "narrative?"

 

CC caution that, "people sometimes post messages on the boards that could be misleading, deceptive, or downright wrong. They may do this unintentionally or, sad to say, intentionally." The same is true of many other sites... perhaps even more so because they lack the degree of thoughtful moderation that so benefits these forums on Cruise Critic.

 

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